There's a new consignment kid on the block! Welcome to .Image - located right in the heart of Flushing Queens, New York (home to everyone's favourite Nanny, Fran Fine!) Bringing a slice of sneaker heaven to one of the world's most diverse cultural hot spots, .Image may not have the largest selection of kicks like their big brother Flight Club, but the quality of their product and service is bar none. Add to that, exclusive access to Asia-only releases, .Image is about to be your one-stop sneaker shop. We chat to the fellas to find out how a ‘side project' became a fully-fledged business and why they're putting Flushing back on the map.
Hey fellas, tell us a little about the store and the team running .Image?
.IMAGE started in 2007 as a side project, between Greg Lam, Perry Shum, and Shu Cheng. We all met in high school and had one thing in common -sneaker collecting, and since then we have became great friends. We spent a lot of our time collecting and going to sneaker events together. We have all been collecting sneakers ever since 2003-04, and still do so today. .IMAGE started out as a side project - we decided to make accessories and a few shirts plus accessories such as cell phone straps with elephant prints. Because we were all so focused on college and had everyday jobs, we didn't decide to put .IMAGE as our main focus until two years ago. As a known fact, Queens is one of the most diverse places in the world so we wanted to open the store here. We wanted to bring something new to the area, especially since there isn't a sneaker spot in this borough. The few stores that were around this neighborhood were either in bad locations and/or didn't have a great selection. When we realized this new mall was being built, we saw an opportunity for to locate the store here.
How about the dwindling resell market though? Is there still a need for sneaker consignment stores?
There is nothing like our store in Flushing. We brought something different to the area. Although we are not worried about the resell market, there will always be a need for limited and hard to find sneakers. We are not trying to rape people with super high prices. That is why we offer an 85/15-consignment rate, so prices stay low.
So why Flushing? There seems to be a massive Asian population there - are they your target demographic?
Being the third most populated area in NY aside from Times Sq. and Union Sq, Flushing has many diverse cultures in and around the area. Although the demographics for this area are mainly Asian, we are not trying to target just the Asian sneaker buying market specifically. Sneakers are for everyone to enjoy, especially those that are like us and love them!
You guys have a nice roster of kicks on the wall - where did you source most of the stock, or is it mainly your own collections on sale?
Being collectors ourselves we have many friends who are also avid collectors. Some of them grew out of their collections, grew older or got involved with other stuff. We got the idea of doing consignment because many people hated the hassle of selling their sneakers. So we started out with friends giving us their collections to help them sell. Some of the items on the wall are part of our personal collections that we wanted to let go. But mainly most of our inventory is from friends and consignors. Our 85/15 offer means stock moves faster and prices stay low.
Nice work..so how do you take the ‘hassle' out of selling kicks for peeps?
A lot of people hate the hassle of selling their sneakers online or just the whole process of selling their sneakers per se. This gave us an opportunity to bring something new to Queens. Since everyone has to travel to the city to Flight Club to sell their sneakers, we brought something closer to home. People simply just bring their sneakers new or used, and we determine a fair price to sell the sneakers. The consignor receives 85% of the final sale. For the 15% we help you clean and shrink-wrap the sneakers to display in store and also list them up online. We also promote our sneakers on social networks and sneaker forums. We are trying to give everyone the best deals and be fair, as well as get people paid. We only buy and trade certain items, but prefer consignment.
What's flying off the racks right now?
This area is surrounded by many high schools so ever since we opened; we have heaps of kids come in asking about older Jordans. A lot of the teenagers like the originals instead of the retro items. We recently had a lot of calls about the Jordan VII Year of the Rabbits.
Yeah Jordans will never die! And most consignment stores will say the same. We also notice you have an Asian connect who sources you with Asian only releases...we bet they are mad popular
Before planning to open a store, we all took a trip to Asia for a month. Mainly Hong Kong and China. We wanted to check out the sneaker game outside of the U.S. We noticed a lot of stores there had older Jordans and Nikes that you just don't see in the States. We made friends and connects with some stores in Hong Kong, which gave us opportunities to get Asia exclusive items. A lot of people seek that pair of sneakers no one around them has. They want to stand out from the rest and be unique. That's universal in the sneaker game!
True that! You're also selling G-Shocks...where do you cop your stock and how popular have the timepieces been for Image?
We carry G-Shock and Nolabel watches. We have accounts with the companies. We usually sell items for below retail price to give everyone a great deal. Since many stores around us carry them and sell them for MSRP, the lower prices have been great for us.
Are there any licensing logistics you have to deal with to be able to sell all this stock?
There is a lot of paper work involved. In order to open a store we had to incorporate our company. We also needed a second hand dealer licence to sell used items. There is also insurance and a lot of other stuff involved in opening up a store correctly. But we had good accountants and lawyers to help us out. That's a good starting point!
We saw a sprinkling of .Image proddy in some of your pics...plans to make a full fledged clothing line in the future?
We plan to launch a clothing brand within the next year or so with accessories too. We plan to only sell .IMAGE products in-store and in our online store.
Where do you see Image in five years? Will the store be sustainable?
Of course we will still be here or planning to expand to a bigger location in Flushing. We plan to launch a clothing brand to accompany the store. But we have many ideas that we want to put in action but people will just have to wait and see. Be sure to check back in five years!